BERLIN, April 10 (Xinhua) -- German automotive supplier Webasto has taken over its South Korean joint venture partner Webasto Donghee for a price over 100 million euros (113 million U.S. dollars), the company announced on Wednesday.
"This investment is an important step in strengthening our position as a systems partner to the automotive industry in the growth market of Asia," explained Webasto CEO Holger Engelmann.
According to Webasto, the sun and panoramic roofs manufacturer is supplying almost all global automobile manufacturers and is looking to expand in Asia, where it is generating 42 percent of its sales.
Webasto Donghee generated sales of around 350 million euros last year and employs more than 900 people across five factories in China, South Korea and Slovakia.
Following the largest takeover in its history, Webasto now has more workers in Asia than the 3,800 workers employed in its native Germany.
To meet growing demand in China and Southeast Asia and to minimize the expense of transporting large, heavy panoramic roofs and batteries, Webasto is manufacturing "as close as possible" to the car factories it supplies, said Engelmann.
Nevertheless, the company's research and development activity continues to be based in Germany. "Our focus on battery development in Germany is also very clear," said the CEO. Concrete applications are then also developed in China, South Korea, Japan or the U.S. and tested locally.
"In principle, we can produce batteries as well as roofs in these five factories," said Engelmann.
Although the new business segment has a turnover of just over ten million euros, Webasto is expecting rapid growth, generating one billion euros by 2025.
Webasto is currently setting up battery production in China. Engelmann said it would take three years from development to series production. Webasto buys the cells for its batteries in South Korea and China.
Webasto has been affected by the slump in car sales in China at the end of 2018. Group turnover fell last year from 3.5 to 3.4 billion euros. Profit figures are due to be announced in May.
Webasto is hoping that the purchase would tie its major customer, Hyundai-Kia, more closely to it. In future, Webasto will also be able to offer it batteries for electric cars, charging solutions and electric heating systems.